Esau Labors to Steal the Inheritance

From United Methodist conflict hits Bible Belt pews, while Tennessean report omits crucial facts by Terry Mattingly

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Meanwhile, UMC traditionalists — easy to find on social media — are complaining that establishment leaders have started efforts (while delaying a vote on the protocol) to punish conservatives and, thus, to hang on to major churches properties and assets.

This reality didn’t make it into the Tennessean story either, even though some of the hottest battles have been, and will continue to be, in the Southeast. For example, consider the full-page advertisement (posted above) that ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This is not a new development. As a Christianity Today report noted last summer, concerning a battle in the largest church in the North Georgia Conference:

Regional leaders of the United Methodist Church (UMC) took control of an 8,000-member congregation in suburban Atlanta earlier this month after a lengthy conflict over who should pastor the church.

The North Georgia Conference seized assets of Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta on July 12, a move that has sparked tensions already roiling over the denomination’s ongoing conflict around same-sex marriage and LGBT ordination.

Back in April, North Georgia Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson reassigned Mount Bethel’s conservative pastor, Jody Ray, to a role in the regional office involving racial reconciliation and said a new pastor would be sent to the church.

Ray turned down that assignment and left the denomination. …

Such a move by a regional conference “has never happened with a church of anywhere near this size or for this reason,” said Rob Renfroe, a UMC pastor in Texas and president of the Methodist publication Good News Magazine.

Need an update? Three weeks ago, the Journal-Constitution reported:

East Cobb’s Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church must pay $13.1 million to the Methodist denomination in order to leave and become an independent church, lawyers involved in the case confirmed.

The price tag for Mt. Bethel to disaffiliate from the UMC with its property and other assets intact is part of a settlement agreement that will resolve a high-profile legal battle between Mt. Bethel and the North Georgia Conference, a regional body which governs nearly 800 UMC churches.

Wait! How would this expensive, painful separation have been handled under the Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation protocol, assuming that a vote is ever allowed to occur on that compromise plan negotiated by liberal and conservative United Methodists?

The protocol wasn’t mentioned in that Journal-Constitution update, as was the case with the new Tennessean report.

Why are so many United Methodists in the Bible Belt, it would appear, assuming that it is hopeless to wait for an up-or-down vote on the protocol plan for a peaceful divorce? Is the establishment bleeding the traditionalist camp in order to kill the protocol?

You know, there may be a story there.

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The enemies of God despise obedience to God, but wants the material rewards of obedience.

It’s worth the effort to fight them. Thieves should be resisted.

But it may be that the enemies of God get their short-term victory, the victory of holding on to your stuff, and so ensure their comfortable lifestyle and retirement.

Make sure they don’t get your family, or your children. The future must belong to God, and His people.

If worst comes to worst, the stuff can be left to rot.

But souls, children, people, assemblies matter.

But if you can stop Esau from stealing the material inheritance, you should.

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